Polar plunge event slated to go on despite frigid temps

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It's an annual tradition: hundreds of people strip down and dive into the new year with "polar bear plunges" on Jan. 1. But it's slated to be downright frigid on New Year's Day. It's an annual tradition: hundreds of people strip down and dive into the new year with "polar bear plunges" on Jan. 1. But it's slated to be downright frigid on New Year's Day.
ASBURY PARK -

It's an annual tradition: hundreds of people strip down and dive into the new year with "polar bear plunges" on Jan. 1.

But projections of frigid weather for this New Year's Day have led several towns to scrap their plunge events.

Doctors say it be catastrophic for the body to plunge freezing cold water. But it can become downright dangerous when the air temperature is colder than the water.

"You cannot re-warm yourself," says Dr. Eric Costanzo, the director of critical care at Jersey Shore Medical Center. "So the risk is infinitely, I believe, increased in terms of having complications from jumping in the water."

The risks haven't deterred the Sons of Ireland. The organization has held 14 New Year's plunges, and despite the frigid forecast, their 15th is slated to happen on New Year's Day in Asbury Park.

"We've actually had years that were worse in terms of the water temperature and the wind," says Dennis Nitka. "The wind is the real factor and it's not supposed to be all that windy."

Adds Nitka, "We do absolutely everything we can to make the event as safe and as warm as it can possibly be."

The plunge is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday in Asbury Park, and brave souls can still sign up at sonsofireland.org. Proceeds will go to the charities Shore House and Unbroken Warriors.

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